A lot has been talked about Richt and his future at UGA. Talking heads use the words "hot seat" and "on the bubble" when referencing the situation. I don't think it matters what term you use because UGA will be UGA, and Mark Richt will be a part of it.
At least for now.
The Dawg faithful have repeatedly vocalized their insistence on Richts' record. Two SEC championships. More than a handful of ten or more win seasons. 90-27 record in nine seasons. Out of conference record and road game victories galore. Heads above most of his peers.
So, why would anyone want to get rid of a coach with this record? Well, as far as I can tell, none of the Georgia fans do. It seems to be coming from outside the circle. But what outer circle elements want this to happen?
Certainly not Florida. South Carolina? Maybe. Tennessee? Not likely. Auburn? A definite possibility.
I think in truth, no one really wants to get rid of Richt. However, everyone wants to get rid of him.
Hear me out. For all of Mark's accomplishments, what has eluded him most? The Big Dance. Sure the Dawgs had a chance in 2002, but they didn't take care of business against Florida. Miami did.
After that year, nothing has lived up to top billing. Great recruits and a 80% to 85% success rate on most seasons (which is great in my opinion). Except 2006 and 2009. I don't include his first season. This is why the outside world is frustrated with Mark Richt. He is such a good guy that you want him to succeed, but time and again he doesn't get to the finish line.
I heard one UGA fan say that this was a rebuilding year. Is that because he hired a new DC? Mark Richt's Georgia should be in reloading mode. Not rebuilding. He has been there nine seasons. He should know how the defense needs to work and what makes the offense click.
Early departures should mean nothing. As in chess, you should always be three to four moves ahead of your opponent. Injury bug, sure it happens. You should have two guys behind that person that are capable (duh). You are recruiting top players every year. Not to mention, according to rivals.com, with the exception of 2010, Richt has been recruiting top 10 classes since 2002. So, the talent is there.
What about the kids who get into legal trouble? Same thing, two bodies behind them to replace them. However, this brings up the culture of discipline.
I believe that Mark is a disciplinarian. But, I think he is like my wife. He will be firm but soft when in reality he needs to be firm and even harder. He may be getting that way (See Mettenberger) because discipline is exactly what has cost the Bulldogs over the past two seasons.
Penalties, fumbles, interceptions, and downright lack of focus are the UGA problems. That comes from discipline. Uniform changes, and celebration dances will not change this in the long run. Even though I think those days are behind them now.
Well, at least I thought that until I saw Grambling State play Florida in the "Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" this past season.
These types of gimmicks, while short lived, are a sign that a team has a lack of focus for a long-term goal during the short-term gains. This means that the energy is there but is uncontrolled or needs exterior boosts in order to perform.
Alas, UGA has no discipline, and Willie Martinez was not at fault for that. Or was he? For being a bad defensive coordinator, maybe he was at fault. Willie took over as the DC in 2005. The Dawgs' defensive team rankings from that point on are as follows; 18th in '05, 8th in '06, 14th in '07, 22nd in '08, 38th in '09.
It would appear to me that the UGA faithful were right. Martinez is to blame. The old saying is defense wins championships, and Martinez was slipping every year.
Yeah? Well, offense scores points.
Mike Bobo took over in 2006 as the Offensive Coordinator. The team offensive rankings were; 90th in '06, 74th in '07, 22nd in '08, and 75th in '09. However, scoring positions were 53rd in '06, 34th in '07, 29th in '08 and 51st in '09.
Can someone say Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno?
What is interesting about this is that the statistics are not supposed to really matter as far as finishing position in the final rankings. Right? Sure, they are a good indicator of how a team will perform, but for the overall accomplishment they sometimes don't correlate.
For example, Texas A&M, Houston, Nevada, Troy and Notre Dame were all top 10 offenses. None of them were ranked at the end of the season. Funny that Georgia beat Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl.
Wait a second, didn't I mention that defenses when championships? Alabama, Texas, Iowa, Penn State, TCU, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Florida were all in the top 10 in team defensive rankings. Seven of these teams finished in the AP top 10 and Nebraska finished 14th in the poll.
I don't have to look at the stats to know that each one of these teams had a better turnover margin or fewer penalties per game or fewer yards penalized than Georgia. But if you want to know where UGA landed in the rankings on this subject, here they are respectively; 118th, 113th, and 107th.
Remind me again which side of the ball it is that creates the category of "turnovers lost"? Is that a defensive problem?
I'm not saying that UGA didn't have a defensive problem, but you have to look at the whole picture. And the whole picture reeks of discipline. Discipline for the game of football. Get the ball, keep the ball. Play the position, don't play out of position. And penalties are points lost.
How do you implement discipline? You can change the assistants, but that is just like putting a prosthetic on the body. The head still controls it.
So, how is Mark Richt going to fair in 2010? More of the same that you saw over the past two years. Look for a 9-4 season. A record half of the SEC schools would love to have.